EINTKILFEverything I Need to Know, I Learned From Lisa SimpsonJessica Tholmer

Continuing the trend of characters that remind me of myself, I get the distinct pleasure of talking about Lisa Simpson. Watch out, y’all. I take The Simpsons very seriously.

EINTKILF Lisa Simpson

1. Accept your family for who they are.
Everyone who has ever seen even a minute of The Simpsons knows that Lisa is a bit of the black sheep of the family. She is extremely academic (okay, I’m not that), very driven, sarcastic, and all in all, she doesn’t have much time for sitting around watching television. In one of my favorite episodes “Lisa the Simpson,” Lisa can’t solve a logic puzzle that everyone else at the lunch table easily figures out, which sends her into a bit of a meltdown about becoming a Simpson. Grampa tells Lisa about “the Simpson gene,” which he describes as the thing that makes all Simpsons become dumber in their old age (I think I have that gene), which makes Lisa panic even more until she meets a bunch of Simpson women who are actually really successful.

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Personally, I always joke that I am so happy to take after the women on the paternal side of my heritage rather than the insane women on the maternal side, so even though I think you should accept your family, it is nice to know that there are options and you don’t have to follow in the exact footsteps of anyone you are related to. God knows I don’t want to end up unhappily married with kids I just kinda like. (Yikes.)

2. It’s okay to not be a Christian. 
In “She of Little Faith,” Lisa becomes increasingly upset that Springfield’s church is becoming one of those horrifying mega-churches and decides to pursue her options when it comes to faith. The Simpsons has an insightful (and hilarious) approach to religious beliefs, and through Lisa, really doesn’t hesitate to mock the majority of the world’s biggest spiritual titles.

Bart: Still looking for a new faith?
Lisa: Yep.
Bart: Hey, how about one of those religions where you eat a human heart?
Lisa: No.
Bart: How about Methodist?
Lisa: No! Look, I’m not just going to pick a religion that seems cool. I’m going to pick one that’s right for me.
Bart: How about Judaism? When you turn 13, cha-ching!

Lisa decides that Buddhism is best for her (thanks, Richard Gere), especially because she can still take part in her families’ traditions. Like Christmas. Though I realized that I didn’t believe in a god or any kind of organized religion when I was quite young (14 years old), I was lucky enough to not have to have a conversation about it with my mother or anyone else in the family. We are much more of a “Santa Claus” Christmas family than a “Jesus’ birthday” Christmas family. Probably because we watched The Simpsons ten times a day.

3. Fight for your rights, ladies!
I can defend The Simpsons like its my job, and one of my favorite arguments I ever got into about the show was with my older cousin who thought that the characters were bad influences, and that the show had no morals, and also that cartoons were dumb. (What a buzzkill.) Lisa always provided me with the most exceptional example of a role model because she is like…the ultimate feminist and anyone who says otherwise has probably never watched a single episode ever.
stacy
Lisa
: Millions of girls will grow up thinking that this is the right way to act! That they can never be more than vacuous ninnies whose only goal is to look pretty, land a rich husband, and spend all day on the phone with their equally vacuous friends talking about how damn terrific it is to look pretty and have a rich husband!

I admittedly had Barbies growing up, and I loved them, but I still appreciate Lisa’s rant. Also, I mostly just made the Barbies make out with my brother’s G.I. Joes. And then we used to throw them down the stairs to see how they would land. (Is that too creepy? Too far?) But it’s okay because I totally do not want to grow up and be pretty and have a rich husband! I so far have only ever liked men that don’t have much money, and even though I’m pretty, I am not vacuous!

4. Also, defend your family.
There have been plenty of times in my own life I have rolled my eyes at the dysfunction of my dear family unit, but there have been many, many more times that I have defended someone for saying something not-so-nice about a member of my family. Lisa does the same thing.

(to her aunts Patty and Selma)
Lisa
:  Well, I wish that you wouldn’t. Because aside from the fact that he has the same frailties as all human beings, he’s the only father I have. Therefore, he is my model of manhood, and my estimation of him will govern the prospects of my adult relationships. So I hope you bear in mind that any knock at him is a knock at me, and I am far too young to protect myself against such onslaughts.

I no longer speak to an entire section of my family for the things they have said about my mother. I stopped being friends with two of my best friends in high school for something mean they said about my brother. I don’t talk to a girl I used to consider a sister because of the runaround she gave my brother post-their breakup. I mean, if you need someone to defend you, get up on my good side, guys. Or be related to me. Like, closely related to me. Like be one of my brothers. (No longer accepting applications, three is quite enough.)

5. Even good girls have controversial opinions.
I honestly think that maybe the reason I have absolutely no problem spouting off my opinion concerning anything political, racial, religious, corporate, etc. etc. is because Lisa always did it. Everyone assumes that someone who follows the rules (like myself, and Lisa) does not have a controversial opinion about anything, but that just is not true. Just because you get good grades and you don’t do drugs and your friends are all book characters does not mean that you cannot fight the man, man. I think most people at this point know that I am not a huge fan of much of the way our country handles its issues, but I still like seeing it reinforced on television!
mcgruff

Lisa: Mom, I know your intentions are good, but aren’t the police the protective force that maintains the status quo for the wealthy elite? Don’t you think we ought to attack the roots of social problems instead of jamming people into overcrowded prisons?

One time, I said to a police officer’s face, “the jails are too crowded because she’s a white woman, or the jails are too crowded because the jails are too crowded?” Soapbox. I live on one.

6. Don’t try to fix boys.
Lisa develops a crush on Nelson Muntz, the–ha ha!–school bully, much to both of their surprise. Like every one of us in the world, Lisa thinks dating Nelson will help him reform his mischievous ways. Obviously, it doesn’t work, and after Nelson lies to her about coleslawing Principal Skinner’s house, they break up. 
nelson
I ended my first ever “relationship” with a boy because he lied to me about egging a car. I kid you not. Same thing.

7. Being a vegetarian is cool.
Though I am no longer a vegetarian, I was for four years, and actually the first time I ever gave up meat was after watching “Lisa the Vegetarian” when it was a new episode! I related to Lisa so much that I wanted to do everything she was doing. Mine only lasted a week the first time, but eighteen years later, Lisa still doesn’t eat meat. Good for her. 

Homer: Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Lisa honey, are you saying you are never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
Lisa: No!
Homer: Ham?
Lisa: No!
Homer: Pork chops!?
Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal!
Homer: Yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.

Ugh, now I want to be a vegetarian again. I got the Lisa guilt. Should I?

8. Choose your career wisely.
Because:
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Ugh.

9. Brothers are the worst.
Now really, I don’t mean that. 

My relationship with my older brother is something I talk about so often that I feel like the title of my first book should be like “Daniel, My Brother, You Are Older Than Me,” which I don’t think is a catchy title and actually might not be allowed because it is a song lyric and I don’t know how copyrighted stuff works, but also while we are on the subject, my older brother’s name is Daniel, and he was named for that Elton John song, which he hates, but I love so you’re welcome for sharing that with the world, Dan! Back to the point, though. Lisa and Bart Simpson are so me and my older brother, it’s unnerving. If Daniel and I were stuck in some bizarro world where we never aged beyond eight and ten years old, we would still be just like them. We have grown up, though, because that’s what people do. Less fighting (still happens on major holidays, because duh) and more of the sweet moments that we see ever-so-rarely on The Simpsons.

fight

There are so many good moments. Bart always upsets Lisa and their fights are extremely realistic as far as sibling fights go, but their makeups are just as genuine. Bart supports Lisa when they are both in military school, there is the whole “Lisa on Ice” episode that still makes me cry at the end, there are all of the times they get into stupid mishaps together and have to work as a team, but most importantly, especially because it was just my birthday, there is this:

michael-jackson-simpsons

10. Other things: losing your faith in democracy is totally understandable; try to be nice to dorks that are in love with you; girls can do math too (I can’t); don’t compromise your personality just to make friends; and most importantly, books are life.

Oh, and massive props to Yeardley Smith. She makes Lisa who she is. <3

(Lisa is so freakin’ wise, you guys. This could have been a top 20.)

Featured image via samantha-mckay.tumblr, Marge and Bart image via judgemyname.tumblr, Malibu Stacy image via facebook.com, Marge as a cop image via mcgarnagle, Lisa gif via mlmjr.com, chicken dinner image via mysimpsonsblog, MJ image via ladosis

comments

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  1. Dear Jessica, I was touched by this post! I love it when people genuinely appreciate The Simpsons for what it is. I’ve watched Simpsons my whole life and though it may have decreased in quality over the years…I know I’m going to be heart broken when it airs its final show. It’s shows like this that make me want to be a writer for television; I’m so proud The Simpsons has lasted this long. The Simpsons is timeless and has given me so much. It was nice to read something from such a devoted fan. I liked your quotes.
    Love,
    Kate

  2. lisa simpson and I are best friends … I eat meat that she didn´t like :)

  3. Lisa rules!

  4. My bro, also a Daniel, woke me one birthday with a recording of him singing the “Lisa Happy Birthday” song to me. Best birthday gift ever!

  5. Lisa is just overall a positive roll model. Not just because she is outspoken intelligent and compassionate. But most of all she demonstrates what it means to learn and grow. There has been plenty of episodes where she was very stern about one of her beliefs. especially of women. Such as the episode where she admits to not wanting to be like her mom. She learns that being a mom is quite possibly the most empowering then a woman can be. The amount of sacrifice and love a mother figure holds is displayed clearly in this episode. and Lisa learns that its not about your career that makes you a powerful woman. Its the choices you make and commitment to said choices. Lisa shows that its okay to change your views when a powerful and logical argument is presented. but its just as important to stand by your decision. If more girls emulated her growing up this world would be an awesome place.

  6. When I was in the Sixth Grade I was lucky enough to Represent The Simpsons in a Mock Trial in front of all the students and some parents. I even woke up 12 minutes earlier than my alarm clock to Iron my “Aye Caramba” T-shirt my mom bought for me at the Local Swap Meet for 6 bucks.. Let’s just say that the only reason The Simpsons are still on the air is because of That 10 year olds Closing statement. You’re Welcome!

  7. Okay, AND there is the episode where Lisa gets a crush on her substitute teacher. She says ‘You mean there are places here my intelligence will be an asset instead of a liability? !” When he leaves she chases the train he is on — He tells her that whenever she feels bad she should look at a piece of paper -= he hands it to her, folded up. Later she reads it and it says “I am Lisa Simpson,”

  8. If there is a real gene that makes you get dumber as you get older, I definitely have it. Peaked in high school without a shadow of a doubt.